By Leah Jacobs
Mechanical engineer and astronaut Karen Nyberg arrived at her far-out destination May 29, having packed quilting supplies for this, her second trip to the International Space Station. Her hope, during her down time: to create the first quilt in outer space.
Nyberg departed Earth simply intending to sew whenever the muse might strike. She did, however, post on Pinterest a photo captioned “floating fat quarters”—referring to the quarter-yard sections of fabric from which small-scale quilts are often fashioned, suspended due to the lack of gravity. Nyberg appealed to fellow quilters online: “What would you do with four fat quarters, a needle and thread, scissors? No sewing machine. No cutting mat. No rotary cutter. No iron. No gravity.” Someone suggested she might use discarded space suits for extra fabric, following a time-honored tradition of quilting with materials at hand.
Earthlings are able to track Nyberg’s progress via social media, though the quilt itself will not come down to Earth until sometime early next year, on an unmanned cargo vessel.
Leah Jacobs is a freelance writer in Baltimore, Maryland.
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